Women at Op1: less often invited, more often interrupted and younger than men

Thesis research by Ilse van Knegsel published in NRC
Studio of Op1
Op1, NPO

A random Op1 episode shows it clearly: Thomas van Groningen, Joost Eerdmans and Milo Schoenmaker discuss developments in politics, Robbert Dijkgraaf talks to students Charissa and Nick about the start of the academic year, and at the table with Joël Broekaert, Soenil Bahadoer and Adriaan van de Plasse, oysters are slurped fanatically. What is striking is that only one woman is a guest in the entire broadcast. Unique? Not exactly. After all, women are still well outnumbered in the media. How this works at Op1, former Media & Journalistiek student Ilse van Knegsel investigated in her thesis that was later published as an article in NRC.

Under the guidance of associate professor Nel Ruigrok (Media Studies), Ilse conducted quantitative research on the guests of the talk show Op1. Ilse examined the extent to which the number of women invited differs from the number invited, as well as the age of the invited guests and that of the presenters. She also looked at the number of times the guests were interrupted.

Through her research, Ilse was able to tell that women are invited to Op1 less than men. Looking at the broadcasters that air Op1, it can be seen that the proportion of women in the invited guests is lowest at EO, where the percentage is 29.8 per cent. The percentage at WNL and BNNVARA was 30.8 and 33.7 per cent respectively. Omroep MAX scored the highest at 37%. Interestingly, female guests are asked about their private lives much more, 42% of female guests are asked about their private lives, while for men it is only 23%. For example, virologist Marion Koopman was a guest to talk about the impact of her sudden fame on her family. Colleagues Ab Osterhaus and Diederik Gommers, were not asked this.

It further revealed that the women featured on Op1 tend to be, on average, a lot younger than the men. Up to the age of 30, the male-female distribution is almost equal, however, it appears that above the age of 60, only a quarter of the guests are women. In addition, a striking difference can be seen in the ages of the presenters, as the oldest female presenter (48), is younger than the youngest male presenter (53). This confirms the pattern that older women have low visibility in the media.

Ilse then investigated whether there was a difference in the number of interruptions and speaking time between male and female guests. This showed that men have 17% more speaking time than women and that women are interrupted by presenters 1.6 times more often than men. However, this does not mean that men are interrupted 10 times and women 16 times, for example. But that for every time a man is interrupted, women are interrupted 1.6 times more.

Ilse's research shows how different stereotypes can still be seen in the media. Danielle Selak, editor at women's advocacy organisation WOMEN Inc. talks about the importance of good representation in the media: "What we see in the media influences how we look at ourselves and the world around us. Prejudices and stereotypes can arise when media show an incomplete or inaccurate picture of social groups. And that can have serious consequences."

More information

Curious about Ilse's research? Read her NRC article here.

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